Fall Accidents a Common Cause of Employee Injuries in Maine

A Maine roofer has been ordered to pay nearly $400,000 in fines and implement a safety program, including the use of proper safety equipment and fall protection.

Business Insurance reports the announcement by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration comes this month after safety violations were cited at 11 worksites between 2000 and 2011. The company has failed to pay fines or institute proper safety measures, despite having been ordered to do so by a First Circuit judge in 2011, according to OSHA.

Maine workers’ compensation lawyers continue to see an increasing number of fall accidents in the workplace. While falls are the leading cause of work injuries (after transportation accidents), they are particularly common in the construction industry. Summer months will bring an increasing number of roofers to the skyline to make repairs and replace old or damaged roofs, so it’s an apt time for a reminder of the risks these workers face and the safety mandates in place to protect them.

Falls from roofs typically result in catastrophic injuries or death. Broken bones, paralysis, and head injuries are common.

An industry study, “Fatal Falls from Roofs Among U.S. Construction Workers,” determined falls from roofs accounted for one-third of all fall-related construction deaths, claiming the lives of more than 300 workers each year. The report found those working for small companies on residential projects, including large numbers of Hispanic and immigrant workers, may be at particularly high risk.

Falls account for three-quarters of all fatal accidents among roofers. An emphasis on enforcement among these smaller contractors and construction companies can have a measurable impact on job safety.

OSHA’s “Fall Protection in Residential Construction” program outlines regulations and offers compliance assistance to companies of all sizes. 1926.501 outlines a company’s duty to have fall protection, while 1926.502 contains fall protection systems criteria and best practices.

Maine Rev. Statute Title 39-A¬†contains the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act, and it provides benefits to employees who have been injured on the job, including medical care and lost wages. Death benefits are also provided for families of employees involved in a fatal work accident.

Unfortunately, the roofing industry is notorious for classifying employees as independent contractors, or hiring day laborers, in an attempt to skirt the required coverage mandates. In other cases, companies may simply not purchase workers’ compensation insurance. While Maine’s workers’ compensation program generally prohibits covered employees from pursuing a personal injury or wrongful death claim against an employer, those not covered by workers’ compensation benefits may be able to pursue such a claim in cases in which negligence led to serious or fatal injuries.

In other cases, a third-party liability claim may be made against a negligent business or property owner, or another party other than the employer. This is true even in cases in which an employer provides workers’ compensation benefits, as long as a negligent third party is involved and identified.

If you are injured in a Maine work accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Maine roofer fined, ordered to implement safety program, June 4, 2018, Business Insurance

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EEOC sues Walmart for disability discrimination against Maine employee, April 27, 2018, Peter Thompson & Associates

 

 

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